If you’re in the UK construction industry then you probably have a love/hate relationship with letters of intent… you love to use them but hate the consequences. They’re mini-contracts with major problems.
“The letter of intent video package from 500 Words is clear, engaging and professional. It avoids the trap others fall into if being wooden and/or patronising. Tools like this are perfect for both development and construction companies. It is excellent.”
– Russell Deards, Group General Counsel & Company Secretary, Henry Boot PLC
“This series of videos on letters of intent is incredibly easy to watch and highly informative. Once you start on video 1 you just want to carry on and complete the entire series. In my view this is a must for project managers and QSs.”
– Nick Cordon, Project Manager, Keller Foundations
Contracts are meant to help you do business, and in a hurry. If that’s the case for you, then you need a letter of intent which is:
- Is quick to prepare and agree
- Is easy to read, understand and use, and
- Persuades (even forces) the project partners to enter into the project contract asap.
Employers like them as it keeps the project to its programme (or so they think). Contractors need them so they don’t start work at risk. Letters of intent are meant to be a temporary quick-fix solution.
I’ve seen many mistakes by letter of intent users including:
- The letter that never ends. I helped an employer agree a letter of intent to cover £½m work just before heading off on maternity leave. By the time I returned, the letter of intent had been extended 7 times until my client owed the contractor £8m. During that time my son had learnt to walk – surely enough time for two companies to agree the project contract?!
- The recycled letter. Late one Friday night, I had to rewrite a letter of intent cobbled together by a well-meaning project manager. He’d just recycled previous version but had no idea whether they were good, indifferent or dangerous. He’d even marked it ‘subject to contract’ without knowing what it means.
- Not starting as you mean to go on. I had to unravel the threads when a client, who’d never been involved in a construction project before, sent a letter of intent to its preferred contractor. He’d been told it was ‘standard practice’ but ended up losing control over the contract process. The contractor was distracted by the works and refused to negotiate the contract terms. My employer client didn’t want to chuck him off site for fear of losing the lowest price bidder.
If that’s your experience, you’re not alone. This three-part video series shows how you can make letters of intent work for you.
- Video 1 provides tips on what you should do if the letter of intent you’ve just received is a disaster waiting to happen. You’ll learn how you can adapt it to make it work for you or build a better letter of intent from scratch.
- Video 2, explains what to do once you have a better letter of intent that’s good to go. You’ll get searching questions to ask before sending it and what you should NOT do after it’s sent.
- Video 3 builds on the previous videos to work out what you and your colleagues need to think about now to avoid the pitfalls when you next need to agree a letter of intent.
Letters of intent, like all contracts, are meant to help you do business. But that aim is often sacrificed on the altar of speed.